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Why your new ideas aren’t catching on

What makes a bullet fly? Many answer with; gunpowder. And although this is partly true, the most important element is its aerodynamic shape. Think about this, the faster an object moves, the stronger the resistance or drag. In other words, add more gunpowder, you simply add more drag. So gunpowder explains the initial velocity, but the reason a bullet is able to fly so far is that it’s aerodynamic. It has been built to reduce the friction operating against it.

This is a useful metaphor for understanding our tendency to think in fuel rather than friction. When people fail to buy a product, listen to a directive, or comply with a law, marketers, managers and policymakers tend to focus on selling their message harder. However, researchers at Northwestern University say there is a better way. Instead of selling harder, fight the frictions that hold people back.

Army recruiters for example found that many young people were excited by army life however, many never enlisted. It was the anxiety of what parents will say, how they’ll respond to the idea of them joining the army, that led them to simply never follow their dream. The recruiters could have created a more exciting campaign, but instead, they decided to reduce emotional friction. They created scripts that helped the student have that conversation at home. There are even cases of recruiters who joined the student when the conversation took place.

Although it’s often easier and sexier to think about the big solution rather than the myriad of small solutions, the latter will probably be the most effective. So next time you’re in a brainstorm don’t forget to ask yourself those questions that will help you find out where you can reduce friction.

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Kim Pillen

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Kim Pillen


Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips,, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff


Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.


Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist